November 5 , 2002 Volume 2 Issue 22
Weird Creative & People
A few weeks ago I wrote about my concept"ChaNge is Out ... ChaRge is IN!"
This is a follow-up. Today let's talk about people. The Who of business. And how important Who is. More than what or why. Or when or where. Or how. Meaning people are key to everything.
It's unlikely this is a debatable concept. Seems universal. At least solid lip service is given to the idea.
The book Good to Great by Jim Collins, now available in book stores and online, agrees. And goes into detail about how good companies became great companies - with the right people in place. Not with a new direction, focus ... or even a revolution. Or name and slogan. Or an inspired program of super perks. Not the fear of failure - although that may be powerful. Not with technology - important, yet it is not "the" thing, either.
Good things happen when people make good things happen. Who is in place is the most important element in"The ChaRge Society".
And yes, sometimes these "ChaRge"type people are weird and creative. How they think is not a straight line. The journey to arrive at a destination is frequently more of a challenge then it needs to be. Because that is the challenge. That's what's fun. That's what keeps these minds moving. Dreaming. Thinking up the unthinkable.
In prepping for this article I used three sources, one old, two current. The first is mentioned above, the Good to Great book. Another was a recent article about an "ole timer" - written about in USAToday by Kevin Maney. That really weird guy is Joseph Schumpeter - the horseman, lover and economist. Most of what we know about him revolves around the boring part - the economy.
The third source was a collection of words by Stanford University prof Robert Sutton. He certainly has a reverse thought process ... it goes like this;
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: We recruit people who are quick on the uptake, people whom we like and need. We encourage coworkers to get along. We make decisions based on experience.
"Now flip those assumptions upside down.
"Hire slow learners, people whom you dislike and don't need.
"Encourage them to defy and fight with their managers and peers.
"Think of ridiculous things to do, and do them."
WOW - strange ... weird ... stuff. Yet, it does make sense when you're thinking forward. Different. Truly "ChaRge", and not just change. When you'd like innovation to create something useful. And profitable!
Because, as Sutton says "... creativity isn't about wild talent as much as it's about productivity." BINGO!
The professor also says ... "Personally, I think failure stinks. But the fact is, every bit of evidence demonstrates it is impossible to generate a few good ideas without generating a lot of bad ideas." A couple of people I think of where this statement applies are Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison.
Next, Schumpeter. In his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy,published in 1932, he talks about "Creative Destruction". At the time it was a nothing - just like the man. Today it is "hot". What Schumpeter meant by his term is you have to tear something down to build it up.
At least, with definition, it sounds interesting. Schumpeter applied his term Creative Destruction to the economy. Specifically the capitalistic economy;
"...incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within incessantly destroying the old, incessantly creating a new one."
He sure like that word 4-part word incessantly!
The term Creative Destruction enjoyed a rebound through the dot.com build up. And again during the fall down, when "the new economy" did not happen. Then it moved on to the Washington, D.C. crowd - to justify new programs we don't need.
This type thinking, too, is weird. And it could come only from weird thinking creative people. No one walking a straight line from A to Z would consider destroying before building. It's only the truly innovative who "see" what will be built, before it is.
Let's end this by returning to Jim Collins and his new book. Collins shares several stories of turn-around-artists ... those weird folks who make a company going bad, good again. His example of David Maxwell and Fannie Mae - although nearly two decades old - is a classic.
Maxwell became CEO at a time FM was losing a million dollars a day. When asked by the board "what" he was going to do to fix it, he replied;
"That's the wrong first question. To decide where to drive the bus before you have the right people on the bus, AND the wrong people off the bus, is absolutely the wrong approach."
Maxwell was talking who. And soon Fannie was earning $4 million dollars a day.
Another success story is Wells Fargo Bank. Because I was a very small part of their transformation to something better, I remember a small piece of their ChaRge action.
When the Bank decided to ever so slowly, yet every so surely, become a truly big player in the western USA, one of the requirements was that branch managers get active. Go into the community. Meet customers. Seek new business. Follow-up current customers for more. Get seen and be heard. Become extroverts ... no longer the introverted manager that was so prevalent in finance.
And ... it worked. Because somewhere around 20% of the managers left, to be replaced by the new breed. Which wasn't the direction for status quo. The old guys (and gals) were cut from old cloth - and the new focus was weird. And it WAS weird! The focus came off the bank and went onto the customers. It WAS different. Unusual. And unique for its' day. And . . . it worked!
Author Jim Collins says;
"So long as we can choose the people we want to put on our minibus, each of us can create a pocket of greatness. Each of us can take our own area of work and influence and can concentrate on moving it from good to great. It doesn't really matter whether all the CEOs get it. It only matters that you and I do."
So, marketers - there is a challenge to being creative. Sometimes we are the client and we keep ourselves comfortably inside. I contend, that if you are in a box - it's a box you built. So unbuild it! Get out. Be weird.
Sometimes we are the creative - and become uncomfortable outside the lines. We're afraid to stretch. We talk about thinking like little children ... yet, we don't. Again, I suggest you do. Go ahead - be weird. That's where the world's most ingenious ideas come from.
And . . . EnJoy!
You can bring "It IS What's Next!"
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.